Hiraeth


"Hiraeth"39" x 29"
In the late fall of 2012, there was a call for a challenge group I don't belong to - "self portrait".  I had never done a self portrait and the idea sat in my head like background music that I didn't pay much attention to until I came across the word "hiraeth" on Facebook two weeks before Christmas. 

I'm an avid reader, and work with words for a living, so I was curious enough to look up this unfamiliar word and learned that it was a Welsh word with no real English equivalent.  But the closest equivalent is "homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost". 



This word really struck a chord with me and I knew that I wanted my self portrait to incorporate the concept of "hiraeth". This naturally led me to thoughts of my past, and so I knew that my self-portrait would reflect the little girl I once was; who, though she is still a formative part of my adult self as I hold her safe and protected in my heart, is irretrievably lost to me. 

That same evening, I drew up a rough sketch, wrote some notes (the second page not pictured talks about the elephant) and I got to work a couple of days later. 



As a child I spent nearly all my free time outside - especially in summer, when the seemingly endless sunny days allowed me to leave the house early in the morning before anyone else was awake, and, after packing myself a lunch and breakfasting out of the garden; I would slip into the woods, where I spent my days in the company of  trees with my imaginary friends.


Elephants were my favourite - and though I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting an elephant outside of the strictures of a zoo; Little Kit fervently hoped to see one one day; hiding amongst the trees.  



My dog, and sometimes my cat, accompanied me for part or sometimes the whole of the day; and one or the other was never far from me even if I couldn't see them. And I sometimes came upon them in quite unexpected places!

I loved otters passionately - and from the first time I saw them, I felt such an affinity with them that I was quite sure I had been one in a prior life!  Although I never saw an otter as I played in the woods, I often imagined that one walked with me wherever I went.




As a child, I loved fairies, sprites and elves, and was quite sure that they not only existed, but came to sit with me while I napped under sun-dappled leaves. Sometimes when I woke I was positive I could hear their laughter as they flitted away and I often sat and tried to sing them back to me. 

My love of fairies remains -and though these days I don't try to sing them to me; I *do* wear a silver fairy on a chain around my neck - a daily reminder to keep Little Kit and her wonder and belief close.  



The woods were full of wildlife - birds and bugs and butterflies, tree toads, foxes, black bears - I even saw a wolf from time to time - and though I looked at everything and touched almost all of it - I felt myself a part of the forest and so never harmed nor was harmed by anything in it.

And I was convinced that if only I looked carefully enough - I would find the fairy doors!





Also hidden in the trees is a representation of all those who came before me - whose presence I have always felt, but never seen. 



 Little Kit lived in a pastoral world filled with all manner of friendly creatures real and imagined, in a place where the wind was always warm, the grass was always soft, and the sun shone lovingly on her face.

And she, and her world, are a large part of what forms me today.




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Regular readers will note that I link up most Fridays with "Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday!" and this week, for the first time - I'm hosting!

So, if you have a finish you'd like to show off, please link up here and don't forget to tour the other finishes and spread the comment love!







Kit 120

Kit Lang

53 comments:

  1. "Hiareth"..a near cousin of tristesse perhaps, but all I sense in this piece is the Joy - so much a living part of you that it's never much further away than closing your eyes. Just wonderful. Would that every child could have just a small portion of such wonder.

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  2. A-fricking-mazing. I want to come and study with you!!! thanks so much for hosting!

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  3. What a magical place to lose yourself.

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  4. This is the most beautiful post I've read and your picture is wonderful. It sounds like we had very similar childhoods :)

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  5. Kit - I wondered how all those elements would come together. Now I get it. Rather lovely!!

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  6. Soooo beautiful. Thanks for sharing these precious glimpses of your past ! The little girl is so sweet - you captured the innocence of her absolutely wonderful. And the otter (I LOVE otters, too - especially sea otters !) ... and the cat !! Yes, I do understand now why you are so passsionate about this piece. it must be very special to you.

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  7. wonderful, both art and glimpse of your childhood.

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  8. That is just truly amazing! You are so talented! Thanks for hosting x

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  9. I love your piece! You have captured the essence of a child's world including the things a child can put in their world with their imaginations. And the work that you do is magnificent as well!
    I too spent hours outside as a kid growing up on a busy fruit farm. Parents both working - and we spent the day hours outside with them. (No babysitters for us - just had to go and sit in the orchard with them. lol) My world was our pets that followed us and the stories we made up. Thank you for sharing your story! It has brought up many happy memories today!

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  10. An incredibly detailed piece with I think expresses the life of Little Kit perfectly. Your self portrait shows off your skills and vision and lets us join LK on her journey - thank you so much for sharing her with us.
    :-D eirdre

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    1. Deirdre, I can't find your comment in my inbox - it doesn't seem to have made it there (how odd). But I wanted to thank you for your comment and also, say you're welcome. :)

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  11. Wonderful, Kit! You captured their expressions beautifully! Absolutely charming, Kit -- the story as much as the piece. Thank you so much for stepping in and hosting TGIFF!

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  12. This is just so beautiful, breathtaking actually! Thanks for hosting TGIFF! So glad I found your blog.
    Amanda

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  13. Kit, this is stunningly amazing. I was enchanted the entire time, reading your story. :) What a wonderful haven you had in your youth.

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  14. Wonderful and beautiful piece of work...I love it:)

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  15. Lovely. Are you going to turn it into a children's book?

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  16. Wow! Seriously gorgeous.

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  17. What a lovely story included in your quilt!

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  18. Da iawn Kit. Darn personol iawn wedi ei ddarlunio'n gariadus.
    .....well if you are going to start using Welsh ;)

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  19. i wonder if our paths ever crossed, unknowingly, but still connected somehow?

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  20. I've never wanted to try an art quilt, but this is absolutely amazing. . . just beautiful. What a beautiful story.

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  21. Little Kit is so beautiful and creative in her imaginative world! How wonderful that she was given the freedom to explore. Our children today often don't have this luxury outside the home. Your portrait is just lovely!

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  22. Delightful and magical and a wonderful way to illustrate yourself!
    I have a thing for fabric illustrations.....and adore this interpretation of you as well!

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  23. This is amazing... I looked back at a few of your posts too to read more. What a project!

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  24. What a vast imagination you have. You are a very interesting person. I rarely follow a blog so close, but I'm never dissappointed when I visit. The piece is spectacular ( hope that's a word). Sounds and looks like pages from a book.

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  25. What a vast imagination you have. You are a very interesting person. I rarely follow a blog so close, but I'm never dissappointed when I visit. The piece is spectacular ( hope that's a word). Sounds and looks like pages from a book.

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  26. What a beautiful way to capture your childhood in fabric!! So many hidden treasures. It is a wonderful piece and clearly illustrates your love of the forest. As a child, I found my peace in the forest(and I still do).

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  27. Sorry. I put my comment on the wrong post.

    I am speechless. This is something VERY special. Each element of the piece is so significant and I was almost moved to tears. I was back there watching you nap in the sunshine with your sprite and otter. Beyond wonderful Kit. This really shines.

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  28. Well, there's nothing left to say. Marvelous story and marvelous piece!
    best, nadia

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  29. What an evocative word that inspired your story and amazing quilt.

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    1. Thanks so much, Linda!

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  30. Truly a wonderful "capture" of the enchanted thinking of the young Kit..a most wonderful work. Thanks for posting the link.
    Kristin

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  31. Absolutly stunning, Kit !
    Definitely a wonderful self-portrait of the little Kit that you keep safe in your heart.

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  32. Kit, this is absolutely charming. I love all the bits and pieces and the way they work together so well. I could spend hours looking at this.

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  33. Kit that is an exquisite piece of story telling, in fabric and in words. You are a wise woman to keep Little Kit and her woodland life with you in spirit. Thanks for the new word, too.

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  34. Kit this is absolutely incredible. As you know, I love your work, but this piece goes beyond...I just love everything about it, and your post today, telling the story behind it is wonderful. What a fabulous self portrait!

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  35. What a beautiful world to hold onto. This is simply magical -- thanks for alerting us on quiltart to it.

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  36. Your story and illustrations are absolutely enchanting. Thank you!

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  37. I love it. A whole story in one picture. Perhaps too much for a child's book illustration though.
    Could I suggest you spend a few hours reading children's books in your local library ?
    It seems to me that the illustrations are becoming minimalistic with less and less detail.
    I suspect that illustrators spend time producing lots of fast sketches from which to select a final one for each stage of the story - so the cat would be one, the otter another, a conversation with the elephant over several etc.
    Good luck

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    1. Thanks Helen! When I was a kid, I loved it when the pictures had tonnes of stuff to look at - so that when my mom read it to me there was always something new to look at. Perhaps the current style is to be minimalistic - and if it is - I guess I'll be unstylish! lol

      That said - a piece like this would be meant to cover two pages, or, more likely be a wrap around cover for the book.

      What I was really seeking was critique on the art itself. But thank you very much for taking the time leave your comment.

      Cheers,

      Kit

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  38. I love this piece and I love the narrative of you! Imagination and creativity do wondrous things.

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  39. I love this, Kit. Really lovely and inspirational.

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  40. What a gem- both the piece, and your story. I love all the little details you put in, and the story behind them.

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  41. so glad that word found you . . . seems like destiny to me. and what a treat this post is.

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  42. Took my breath away-the best, most marvelous place to be you have created through this piece. I want to be there and join in the adventure, Kit!

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  43. This piece and the story are both absolutely beautiful. Mary Ann

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  44. Aaaaah Kit, each piece that you do gets better and better - this is simply wonderful. The sweet little girl has such a look of wonder on her face. The details of the elements are perfectly captured - simple yet conveying so much, especially the fairy figure. Thank you for the background info and explanation of your work. Truly adds a whole new dimension.

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  45. Magical... As a retired first grade teacher, I had such fun playing with children's imaginations and then getting them to write about it. We would always draw our story first so that they had a visual from which to write... making it so much easier to understand and use adjectives. Your quilt would be such a fabulous story for little ones to use and make their own stories. It just wows me to think of the possibilities! Magical indeed.
    Hugs from Mary

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  46. Just saw your blog site on Nina Marie's Friday blog post. I've seen you somewhere else, some other online art group thingie, just can't remember which one! I love your art!

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  47. I did see this in the thumbnail... but haven't commented. (SORRY!) Kit - I am so struck with this. It's SO personal which is what really makes it. It's so ... quiet, honest, and full of that feeling you translated. Every little stitch is so obviously full of intention and story. It's really incredible! : ) That is so very inspiring!

    : ))))

    I don't have the words... lol Beautiful

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  48. Kit, I saw this on Facebook but could not comment there. The pictures are large on my iPad and I feel even clearer than when seen on the blog for some reason. Maybe because I can move the pictures with my finger and enlarge them even more! I saw for the first time the ancestor in the woods peeking out from the trees. I so love this whole piece, all it's incredible detail, story, and the beauty it holds from your talented creating! I'm so glad you made it large. Just disappointed you don't have time to also work small with us. Sigh! I'll miss you there! But glad I can come here to see what you are doing. Keep the heads up on Facebook too please. Thanks, and happy creating!

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